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Lisa Reyes, Human Resources, Solano County Office of Education

Dixon teacher shoots music video promoting positive relationships – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Neil Postman famously wrote, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” With that in mind, it is considered important for children to set positive examples — and form positive relationships — starting from a very early age to ensure that the future itself is positive.

Sheila Herd, a math teacher at CA Jacobs Middle School, chose to promote positive culture among youth via a music video she shot of students throughout Dixon Unified School District. To bring that message home, she chose the very right song and had the blessing of the band that wrote it.

Herd describes herself as a music lover who attends a lot of concerts and bonds with her son over a lot of bands. One band she is a huge fan of is the Strumbellas, a Canadian indie folk band best known for their 2016 No. 1 alternative hit “Spirits,” which netted them several Canadian music awards, including the coveted Juno Award for Single of the Year.

Source: Dixon teacher shoots music video promoting positive relationships – The Reporter

Country High School community urges school board to not move campus operations – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A discussion on a proposal to move Country High School’s operations to the comprehensive high school campuses may not have been on the agenda for Thursday’s school board meeting, as it was previously scheduled, but parents, teachers and students still took time to express their concerns.

On Sept. 16, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh issued a letter to families announcing that the district was considering establishing two smaller continuation school campuses on the Vacaville and Will C. Wood high school campuses. Country High students would be assigned to a campus based on their area of residence and take classes in self-contained classrooms.

The district’s goals were to provide easier access to Career Technical Education courses for Country High students, allow CHS students to participate in lunch and extracurricular activities with their comprehensive high school peers and make it easier for them to transition back to their home campus if they finish up their credits.

Source: Country High School community urges school board to not move campus operations – The Reporter

Student vaping epidemic has California schools frantically mobilizing [Los Angeles Times]

Students at Crescenta Valley High School have created an anti-vaping app. At nearby Rosemont Middle School, 55 students have joined an anti-vaping club. Santa Monica schools have booked 20 anti-vaping and drug awareness student assemblies and parent meetings. Staffers at various Southern California campuses are stepping up patrols of hidden nooks, installing costly detection devices, bringing in addiction counselors and modifying health curricula.

The recent surge of lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping, an increasingly entrenched habit among many youths, largely caught school authorities flat-footed, and educators are urgently mobilizing anti-vaping efforts against what they see as a dangerous teen epidemic.

“We’ve seen this develop very quickly, ” said Crescenta Valley Principal Linda Junge. “We’re seeing a public health crisis that has come onto campus.”

Source: Student vaping epidemic has California schools frantically mobilizing [Los Angeles Times]

Dixon City Council to vote on reinstatement of basketball program – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Just when it was looking like Dixon youth basketball players would have to go outside the city to participate in recreational action this fall, Dixon Montessori Charter School (DMCS) has stepped in with an agreement to allow playing hoops on its campus.

The City Council provide direction to staff regarding this potential reinstatement at its Tuesday meeting, freeing the way for fifth through eighth-graders to dribble and drive.

For the past 12 years, the city has coordinated the Dixon Youth Basketball (DYB) program to allow Dixon’s youth to participate in a non-competitive recreational sport, according to a staff report by Public Works Director Joe Leach, Recreation Manager Jean Houseman and Recreation Supervisor Austin George. The program is split into four divisions: Division 1 for for first and second-graders, Division 2 for third and fourth-graders, Division 3 for fifth and sixth-graders and Division 4 for seventh and eighth-graders.

Source: Dixon City Council to vote on reinstatement of upper youth basketball program – The Reporter

Benicia students can use ID cards to check out books – Times-Herald

By Vallejo Times Herald

Thanks to the OneCard collaboration between Benicia Public Library and Benicia Unified School District, all students attending middle school and high school in Benicia can now use their student ID cards as library cards, the city announced Monday.

The move puts library cards into the hands of the nearly 3,000 students who attend these schools.

“This is a very important step forward for access to information resources for our entire community,” said David Dodd, the city of Benicia’s director of library and cultural services, in a city press release. “We’ve been working towards this for a couple of years, and it is so fantastic to see it become a reality!”

Source: Benicia students can use ID cards to check out books – Times-Herald

2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated 30 California public schools that have been chosen as 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This coveted award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve high learning standards.

“Congratulations to these schools that have tremendous programs dedicated to, and invested in, creating state-of-the-art learning and teaching environments,” Thurmond said. “This recognition is well-deserved, and special thanks go to the educators and the school communities that meet students’ unique needs in order for all of their students to reach their full potential.”

The award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. In its 37-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 9,000 schools.

Source: 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State schools superintendent discusses education at Solano breakfast – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Elected officials, school board trustees and superintendents from throughout Solano got an understanding Thursday of the current state and future of education at Solano County Office of Education’s annual State of Education Breakfast Forum.

State superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond was the guest speaker.

With the theme of “Full STEAM Ahead,” the breakfast was an opportunity to bring educators, business leaders and elected officials together for a discussion on educational opportunities and showcase what certain school districts are doing to prepare students for the workforce in the new decade, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Source: State schools superintendent discusses education at Solano breakfast – The Reporter

Hundreds of CA school administrators have pensions that exceed IRS limits [The Sacramento Bee]

Hundreds of California school administrators hired decades ago are collecting retirement incomes that are too big to qualify as public pensions under federal tax law.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System issued payments last year for 359 pensions over the IRS public pension limit, according to the retirement system’s data.

CalSTRS sends the retirees and beneficiaries on the list two checks each month: one for the maximum pension disbursement and another that is classified and taxed as wages according to a process outlined in IRS code.

Source: Hundreds of California school administrators have pensions that exceed IRS limits [The Sacramento Bee]

Fairfield woman ‘100 percent’ committed to youth, women’s golf – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

Lynda Donahue has for weeks been training as though she were about to run a half-marathon.

In reality, the Fairfield resident and retired director of special education at the Vacaville School District is just preparing to go out to play a round of golf – a 100-hole round of golf.

“I’m actually doing it for the Youth on Course Foundation, which is an organization that is part of the Northern California Golf Association,” Donahue said from Texas, where she is playing in another tournament.

Source: Fairfield woman ‘100 percent’ committed to youth, women’s golf

Virtual Town Hall “Listening Session” – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in partnership with county offices of education throughout the state, hosted a virtual town hall yesterday where local educational agencies spoke about some of the unique challenges they face in ongoing efforts to close the achievement gap for California’s most vulnerable students.

“This town hall was an opportunity for me and key members of my team to hear first-hand from districts and staff members who are working with students at risk of falling through the academic cracks,” said Thurmond. “We can’t provide an effective system of support if we don’t know what the challenges are at the local level and what is truly needed to ensure that all of our students have opportunities and access to a quality and equitable public education.”

Source: Virtual Town Hall “Listening Session” – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

‘Walk to School Day’ set Oct. 2 in Solano County – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Solano Safe Routes to School program is encouraging students and their family members to walk to school Oct. 2 as part of the “Safe Route Superhero” program on International Walk to School Day.

“Walking with friends, family and neighbors on International Walk to School Day builds community and shows how individuals can make a difference in improving safety by having fewer cars on the road,” Harry Price, chairman of the Solano Transportation Authority and mayor of Fairfield, said in a statement released by transportation agency. “Walking to and from school is also a great way for kids to get more physical activity and offers parents the opportunity to teach them important pedestrian safety skills.”

Source: ‘Walk to School Day’ set Oct. 2 in Solano County

DUSD officials tour Dixon High farm, future middle school campus – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

It is not often that the past, present and future can be equally represented, but that’s what the Governing Board of the Dixon Unified School District got Tuesday.

Officials received a glimpse at the construction progress of two of the district’s largest projects — the new farm at Dixon High School and the remodel of the old DHS campus to make way for the new middle school campus — during a special school board meeting.

In a tour attended by board trustees Jewel Fink, Luke Foster and Melissa Maseda; Superintendent Brian Dolan, Nick Girimonte, assistant superintendent of educational services; and Tad Smith, chairman of the Measure Q Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, officials got to see how the two large-scale projects are coming along. The tour was led by Jim Bombaci, the senior project manager for School Site Solutions which is constructing both projects.

Source: DUSD officials tour Dixon High farm, future middle school campus – The Reporter

Vallejo school district releases proposed trustee maps – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

As the Vallejo City Unified School District prepares to transition to by-trustee area elections, district officials have released three different maps for community review.

The maps show how the district could be split into five distinct trustee areas, which would go into effect for the November 2020 election.

The board in April approved a resolution to change the election format from at-large, with each trustee being elected by the entire city electorate, to by-trustee areas, meaning each trustee will represent a portion of the city and be elected by residents in that particular area.

Source: Vallejo school district releases proposed trustee maps – Times-Herald

Charter schools rally, march for Global Climate Action Day – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

While a 16-year-old Swedish girl chastised politicians on Capitol Hill this week, sister charter schools in Vallejo held a Global Climate Action Rally Day of their own.

Activist Greta Thunberg enlightened the suits in Washington, D.C., hoisting a sign in Swedish “Skolstrejk för Klimatet” (“School Strike for Climate”).

“I don’t want to be heard all the time, but if there is anything I can do to improve the situation then I think it’s a very small price to pay,” Thunberg told CNN.

Young people took to the streets in protest worldwide, including thousands in New York City.

Source: Charter schools rally, march for Global Climate Action Day – Times-Herald

VUSD postpones discussion of proposed Country High School changes – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A discussion and action regarding the relocation of Country High School operations that was scheduled to be heard at Thursday’s school board meeting has been postponed, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh announced in a letter Friday.

Earlier this week, VUSD announced it had agendized a discussion regarding a proposal to establish two smaller continuation campuses for Country High students on the grounds of Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools. Shamieh wrote in the earlier letter that the goal was to give Country High students easier access to Career Technical Education courses and allow Country High students who were caught up on their credits to transition back to their home campuses to finish up their remaining credits for graduation.

Source: VUSD postpones discussion of proposed Country High School changes – The Reporter

First Solano student wellness center opens; goal is for 25 countywide – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

A student wellness center opened this week at Golden Hills Community School, the first in a $1.7 million investment to open 25 centers in the school-based Wellness Center Initiative launched by the Solano County Office of Education.

“As educators and community leaders, we know that mental health can create significant barriers to effective learning. School-based wellness centers can create opportunities to destigmatize mental health, foster open dialogue with students around issues like suicide prevention or bullying, and teach coping strategies that build resilience and help students manage stress before negative behaviors or violence occur,” Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement released Friday by her office.

Source: First Solano student wellness center opens; goal is for 25 countywide

School wellness centers ‘really about youth engagement’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Educators have long believed that keeping kids interested and focused in the classroom can stem the dropout rate, an idea confirmed by recent Solano County, state and U.S. Department of Education statistics that reveal four-year high school graduation rates have increased over the past decade, topping 80 percent in many school districts.

The key is meeting students’ academic, social and emotional needs. But, in the first two decades of the 21st century, marked by a tragic series of school shootings and other daily toxic stress, it is the latter aspect that is getting more attention from school leaders, counselors and teachers, said Kim Govi, foster and homeless youth program manager for the Solano County Office of Education in Fairfield.

“There is an increasing focus on mental health and it has become a priority in Solano County,” she said Wednesday at the Golden Hills Community School wellness center on Clay Bank Road in Fairfield, which celebrated a ribbon-cutting event earlier in the morning. “We are expanding mental health services and support.”

Source: SCOE official: School wellness centers ‘really about youth engagement’ – The Reporter

School board to discuss changes to Country High School – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Major changes could be coming to Country High School, Vacaville Unified School District’s continuation school, in the 2020-21 school year. The VUSD Governing Board will be discussing a proposal to establish two smaller continuation campuses on the Vacaville and Will C. Wood High School properties at its Sept. 26 meeting.

According to a letter to families sent by Superintendent Jane Shamieh, major goals of the proposed change include providing Country High students with access to Career Technical Education (CTE) courses and making it easier for students who have caught up on their Country High credits transition back to their home school to finish the credits needed to graduate.

The core classes would be taught in self-contained classrooms on the comprehensive school sites by Country High staff. Students would be placed on campuses determined by their residence, Shamieh wrote.

Source: School board to discuss changes to Country High School – The Reporter

Solano College celebrates Constitution Day – The Reporter

By The Reporter

The community is invited to a Constitution Day talk Thursday at Solano Community College, 4000 Suisun Valley Road in Fairfield.

Keynote speaker Don Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Center, will speak on the Eighth Amendment and the landmark case, Plata v. Brown 563 U.S. 493 (2011).

His talk begins at 5 p.m. in the Performing Arts/Theatre , Building 1200. The event is free, as is parking in Lot 2 after 4:30 p.m.

Source: Solano College celebrates Constitution Day – The Reporter

Teenage years shaped Superintendent Martinez’s career | Pioneer Press

By The Pioneer

“Education saved my life,” Robert Martinez said last week in his office for the past month as the new Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent.

He grew up in Southern California as the youngest child in a middle class Mexican American family home, where his parents insisted their children speak English. His life changed forever after his mother died when he was 13.

Within three years he uprooted himself from the home he shared with his overwhelmed dad to move in with an older brother, who required that to stay there the 16-year-old needed to go to school and get a job.

Source: Teenage years shaped Superintendent Martinez’s career, educational views |